Nakon Nayok (sometimes written Nakhon Nayok) is a beautiful little Thai province, only 100km east of Bangkok. The province sits on a plain at the foothills of Khao Yai National Park. The mountains of Khao Yai feed the many streams and rivers. Although only a small province, it is well known to Thais who flock here at weekends and holidays to play in the refreshing water of its renowned rivers and waterfalls.
While many of the waterfalls dry up to a trickle during the dry season, the recent construction of the huge Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam means that Nakon Nayok River now has a constant flow of water throughout the year. The dam is the biggest of its type in the world and is an attraction in itself.
Nakon Nayok has become a center for soft adventure sports such as rafting, kayaking and trekking. It is also a good base from which to go and explore spectacular Khao Yai National Park. The area is also well known for its selection of delicious locally grown fruit.
Nakon Nayok's popularity with Thai vacationers means the area is well provided with a range of holiday accommodation to suit most tastes. Yet despite all Nakon Nayok's attractions, the area remains firmly off the mainstream western tourist radar. Even the backpacker's bible Lonely Planet fails to give the province a mention. Western faces are still a rare enough site that the locals will make a special effort to make you feel welcome.
A visit to Nakon Nayok is an opportunity to get off the beaten track. You will meet real Thai people who remain unspoiled by exposure to mass western tourism. Their hospitality is genuine and charming.
The main tourism area is in the north of the province at the foothills of Khao Yai. This is where the fresh mountain water pours into the rivers and waterfalls. As you drive from Nakon Nayok town, you will pass roadside vendors selling a fabulous range of local fruits or roasting whole chickens on open spits. In the distance, you see the mountains of Khao Yai. Soon, the imposing structure of Khlong Tha Dan Dam comes into sight. You are now in the heart of one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, for Thais.